Senior All-American Pete Friedl leads the Illini against the Purdue Boilermakers in the season opener.
Jan. 19, 2006
The third-ranked Illinois wrestling team starts Big Ten action this Friday against Purdue. The defending Big Ten champions are looking to claim an early lead in a conference that has nine schools in the Top-25.
Illinois is 10-3 against Purdue under head coach Mark Johnson, and last season's 32-6 victory over the Boilers marked seven straight wins in the series for the Illini. Purdue, who also begins their Big Ten portion of their schedule, is coming off of a 25-16 win against Cal State Bakersfield, which brings them to 8-3 overall. The Boilermakers lineup features three ranked opponents in No. 6 Chris Fleeger (133), No. 9 Doug Withstandley (149) and No.4 Ben Wissel(184).
Even though this is their first head-to-head competition this season, the Illini and the Boilermakers are already familiar with each other. Earlier this season, the two teams both competed in the Las Vegas Invite as well as the Midlands Championships with the Illini taking five out of the six individual matches.
Matchup to Watch:184 pounds #2 Pete Friedl vs. #4 Ben Wissel: The senior All-Americans met at the finals of the Las Vegas Invite as well as the Midlands Championships-each winning one.
The fourth-ranked University of Illinois wrestling begin their Big Ten Conference schedule 4-0 as they defeated Stanford University on Sunday, 39-0. The Illini finished the California swing of their schedule unbeaten with the three Clovis High School alumni-Alex and Troy Tirapelle and Gabe Flores-each going 3-0. The Illini are 92-4 in head coach Mark Johnson's 14-year career. With three duals in two days, the team looked at these matches as the final preparation before their grueling Big Ten schedule. The grapplers finished the weekend losing only one match in three duals.
On Friday night, the Illini dismantled San Francisco State, 44-0, in the first meet of the three team dual at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. In front of their family and friends, the three local wrestlers didn't allow the Gators to score a takedown.
In the main event of Friday night's three-team dual, Illinois defeated Fresno State, 37-3. The Illini allowed finally lost a match for the first time this season as heavyweight Matt Weight dropped a close decision to Cody Parker.